Distillations magazine

Unexpected Stories from Science’s Past

Making and Knowing (Fake) Coral

Watch historians re-create a recipe for imitation coral, a popular material in early modern jewelry and home décor.

gloved hand mixing ingredients for an experiment
About SUPPORT OUR WORK

In a cramped lab, historians from Columbia University and the Chemical Heritage Foundation (now the Science History Institute) are reconstructing a 16th-century workshop by re-creating recipes from an anonymous craftsperson’s manuscript. One of the recipes being pursued is for imitation coral, a popular material in early modern jewelry and home décor.

More from our magazine

Black and white photo of girl with a cotton plant
DISTILLATIONS MAGAZINE

Rings of Fire

Arsenic cycles through racism and empire in the Americas.

Color photo of two men in suits, one without a shirt, photographed walking in the dark
DISTILLATIONS MAGAZINE

Valery Fabrikant and Science’s Ethical Limits

Is it right to publish research from an unrepentant murderer?

Engraving of young Victorian woman crouch at feet of seated older woman
DISTILLATIONS MAGAZINE

How Notorious Abortionist Madame Restell Built a Drug Empire

Desperate women, mistreated by the 19th century’s medical establishment, risked black-market remedies and the wrath of Anthony Comstock’s moralizing thugs.

    Republish

    Copy the above HTML to republish this content. We have formatted the material to follow our guidelines, which include our credit requirements. Please review our full list of guidelines for more information. By republishing this content, you agree to our republication requirements.